March 2011 Archives
Corbin Bryant hasn't played a down of football since New Year's Day, when Northwestern lost to Texas Tech in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas. And it took awhile for the 6-4, 285-pound former Wildcat defensive end to admit that he was indeed nervous before participating in NFL timing day Tuesday in Evanston.
Bryant's nerves didn't show in perhaps the showcase event of timing day: the bench press. Bryant did 31 reps of 225 pounds, clearly the most of any NU participant.
"I'm going to admit that I was a little nervous the first time I ran my 40, but the second time I was like, 'Alright, I've got to get down here and just run as fast as I can and see what happens,' " said Bryant, who did not start playing football until his senior year at Morgan Park High School.
"I've gotten some good feedback [from the NFL scouts in attendance] and they said I looked good running out there," Bryant said. "They ask about your past -- have you been in trouble -- and I'm lucky enough to have a clean record so they know I'm a good guy."
Bryant said he has workouts set up with the Patriots, Jaguars and Bears in the coming weeks.
There were representatives from 29 of the league's 32 teams at timing day. Those who did not send scouts or coaches were the Jets, Redskins, Cowboys and Patriots.
With NFL labor uncertainty looming over the timing day exercises, players were trying not to worry about whether or not there will be a lockout. The first round of the NFL draft is scheduled for April 28, which should take place whether or not a collective barganing agreement is reached.
"I just blocked out the [league's] future and just worried about what I was doing [in the drills]," linebacker Quentin Davie said. "I try not to even worry about that. I'm trying to get past this milestone first and then I'll get there. I try to block it out, because it has nothing to do with me as of now."
Davie has overcome a shoulder injury suffered midway though last season. NU linebackers coach Randy Bates had described it as a "stinger," where Davie had difficulty raising his arm, much less making a tackle. Davie said he doesn't even remember which shoulder was injured, but that he is healthy now.
Another healed Wildcat participating in timing day was kicker Stefan Demos, who had offseason surgery on his left hip. Demos made his first 12 field goals from inside the 45-yard line and missed two 50-yard attempts that fell short.
Demos said he will participate in a combine in Los Angeles next month. It will be the final tune-up for Demos before the draft.
"I wasn't expecting to be able to kick by this time after the surgery," Demos said. "I had to get a bone removed from my hip and I had been rehabbing the last six to eight weeks back [home] in Arizona. My mobility is good and I just have to work on my strength now."
Northwestern junior forward John Shurna and senior point guard Michael "Juice" Thompson were named to the All-Big Ten's third team it was announced Monday.
It is the second time in three seasons that the NU men's basketball team has had two players on the All-Big Ten team.
Thompson was a consensous pick of both the coaches and the media, and Shurna was a coaches' pick but the media's honorable mention.
It may have started out slow Monday morning at Northwestern, as the Wildcats held their first practice of the spring football session. After all, practice started at 6:45 a.m. because of reading week conflicts so the intensity level didn't really kick in until about 8:30.
Coach Pat Fitzgerald said he wants to emphasize the following during spring practice, which ends April 16 with the spring game:
"On offense we have to identify our starting quarterback and the little things we saw on tape we want to get more efficient on like third down, red zone and executing the fundamentals," Fitzgerald said. "On defense, we have to identify some starting positions and get some swagger back. Kicking game, we have to identify roles and figure out who is our starting place kicker going into [training] camp [in August]."
Spring football begins Monday morning and there are a few things that are almost painfully obvious:
Quarterback Dan Persa will not be participating in team drills and is still rehabilitating from a ruptured Achillies.
Coach Pat Fitzgerald and offensive coordinator Mick McCall say the biggest disappointment for NU last season was ending the season with three consecutive losses: to Illinois at Wrigley, at Wisconsin and to Texas Tech in the TicketCity Bowl.
How long is it going to take to live those down? Hopefully not much longer, as spring football kind of reminds me of spring itself: rebirth and renewal and getting rid of the detritus of seasons past.
McCall said Kain Colter will be strictly a quarterback this spring, unlike the experiment during the bowl game of using Colter as a running back.
Speaking of RBs, Mike Trumpy's right wrist is almost healed and the Wheaton North alum will be playing -- albeit in a cast.
McCall is also very pleased with the offensive line and their attitude.
"They are really stepping up and they are one of our most enthusiastic groups," McCall said. "They are working with a lot of confidence now. I'm excited about those guys."
Defensively, Fitzgerald thinks his players have their swagger back.
"We have to get over the hangover of how we played in those last three games," Fitzgerald said. "We turned the ball over 10 times [over] the last three games and that's how you give the opposing team extra possessions. The defense has a job to do."